Where? Gillrays Steakhouse & Bar, within the London Marriott County Hall Hotel.
When? Friday 4th July 2014
Ambience: Traditional, formal setting akin to an ‘old boys’ club. Due to a private function taking over the regular dining room we were dining in one of the smaller rooms whose lounge seats were not designed for eating in comfort. However, this room did boast lovely views of the sun setting over Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament across the South Bank.
Service: Informative but neither attentive nor interested, this could have been because of the private event (although it should be noted this hadn’t started at our time of eating). Our drinks took approximately 20 minutes to arrive and that was after a couple of nudges, the complimentary appetisers arrived at the same time as the starters so the table was overwhelmed and the bill once requested assumed the ‘optional service’ was being paid. Overall the service was lacking the personal touch that other similar establishments pride themselves on.
Food: I had made the reservation after seeing that Gillrays were trying out their ‘summer market’ menu: 2 courses and a cocktail for £20. This for London is a bargain plus it was located conveniently for mine and my dining partners’ offices for a post Friday meal.
Appetiser: Yorkshire pudding with cheese
Complimentary and completely bizarre this sizeable and cold Yorkshire Pudding contained a lump of cheese that had the texture and taste of leftover melted cheese from an old piece of toast, this was served with a pot of herb mayonnaise. Unfathomable, unpalatable and offensive to someone from Yorkshire. NEXT
Starter: Corn-crusted Devonshire sardines with warm heritage tomatoes & grilled sourdough
A beautiful plate of food and a decent number (3) of sardines to accompany the (3) pieces of sourdough. However, trying to eat it served in a bowl proved rather more difficult, a plate would have been preferable. The sardines were tasty yet dry, the sourdough again dry but this was to be expected and improved with the application of the aforementioned herb mayonnaise, the tomatoes added a hint of sweetness and much-needed juice. An average dish.
Main: Char Grilled Rump Steak (rare) with triple cooked chips, grilled mushrooms & vine tomatoes and Béarnaise sauce (on the side)
The steak, slightly over-cooked, was delicious, meaty, full-of-flavour and very little fat – the fat there was was both juicy and crispy – the chips were equally tasty, fat and crispy with an ingrained saltiness. The tomato and mushroom were mere window dressing and not worth note. However and also thankfully, I managed to prevent my dining partner from throwing the sauce over her dish before tasting, something she will forever be in my debt. It was horrible. Neon yellow, overly rich, gluey and cloying it would have completely overwhelmed the plate. Instead we were served our own personal pot of Heinz mayonnaise and ketchup and I was presented with a selection of mustards, a much more appetising option.
The desserts were not offered to us again at the end of the meal, although a brief glance at the beginning of the meal told me that I wouldn’t have actually desired one anyway.
Drink: The cocktail was gin, Prosecco and a choice of either passionfruit or cranberry juice. We both opted for passionfruit which was extremely refreshing. I wasn’t sure what happened if you didn’t like gin.
Aside from the cocktail we stuck to tap water, which was cold and served with lemon. They do boast an extensive drinks menu, although we didn’t peruse, as instead of being offered a traditional menu (it should be noted here I love perusing menus!) we were given a tablet to scroll through – this didn’t suit the style and ambience of the restaurant and was an off-putting medium especially after spending all day in front of a computer.
Repeater? Maybe. The main course was a hit everything else in terms of food and service was lacking. On leaving we got a glimpse of the ‘real’ restaurant so it might be worth another try when a private dining event is not taking place.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Taste the menu for yourself by booking here.